- New members – Carlos, Desiree, and Kalani started provisional membership on March 27; Svenvic arrived in October
- Finished Projects –
- summer kitchen cob oven complete
- Spring tree planting
- hoop house – repairs, new plastic, shelves built with cedar, bio-char stoves built
- garden spaces revived – some terracing, hugelkultur beds
- pathways – dug out as trenches for water, herb garden paths
- goats – completed fencing, more goats
- bee hives and swarm boxes built
- first local sorghum harvest and cook
- well repairs
- hatched out over 35 guinea fowl
- Projects in Progress –
- goat shed
- summer kitchen – rocket stove, seating areas, solar oven
- cheese cellar
- developing local barter connections
- “share cropping” at a nearby farm (sorghum) will be growing sunflower seeds, millet, corn, wheat, and beans with neighbors
- ONE congress, local bio-regional congress inspired by OACC
- OCHFP Food Co-Op
- ONE work parties, potlucks, and workshops
- hosted 13 visitors and had many celebrations
This past year has been a beautiful transition for Oran Mor on it’s stages from cocoon into butterfly. The community was founded in 2003 by Bunny, Pearl, and two others from East Wind. Many visitors and members have come and go, and 2014 saw the arrival of 4 new provisional members, three adults and one child. Desiree, Carlos, and Kalani returned to OM to begin their provisional membership in March 27, 2014 after a three week visitor period they enjoyed in 2012. Svenvic began his provisional membership on November 17 directly after his visitor period. Provisional membership lasts one year so the potential members must make it through all four diverse and unique seasons before becoming full members. Winter has been the true test to see if we can get through the long haul chopping wood, carrying water, stuck indoors for days and days… We are making it! It’s very cool to be part of Oran Mor morphing into it’s ideal of equality, consensus-based, income-sharing community.
With the arrival of new members, the help of many visitors, and several work parties at the farm and other nearby farms, we were able to complete many projects. Our first cob oven was completed in early spring and used a lot during the Spring and Summer. We made some awesome pizzas with hand-ground flours, cheese from our goats, and homegrown veggies. We also used it for baking breads, potatoes and squash. Most of our garden space was overgrown due to laying fallow for a few years during a rough patch at the community. We grew a decent amount of food considering the circumstances (a bounty of Cushaw squash), and the fall and winter gave us ample time to prepare for our 2015 gardens. We practice no-till and permaculture methods of gardening, attempting to grow in harmony with nature. Many small shrubs and trees that had taken up residence in our veggie gardens over the past three years were cut down. Then the soil received lots of local compost and manure and we also made several hugelkultur beds. We are all really excited about the upcoming growing season and many seeds have been started in trays and in the ground already! Pathways were laid through our herb garden and veggie gardens with limestone from the farm and wood chips from the local recycling center. Every Spring, we have a tradition of planting 100-200 native trees on the property. Last Spring we planted Paw Paw, Persimmon, Elderberry, Short Leaf Pine, American Beauty Berry, and Mulberry. During the Summer and Fall we were able to complete repairs to the hoop house that caved in a couple years ago in a big storm. We used Cedar poles to prop it up and built Cedar shelving to be used for plant starts. Our goat herd gives us the bulk of our protein needs here as well as wonderful companionship, so they are very dear to us. Currently there are five does residing with us, three wethers, two babies who we are trading for beef with a friend, and our buck who is eternally in rut. We are working on a rotational browsing setup and many fences were built last year. We also completed some much needed repairs on our well, and after having to pull up the well seven times, it’s safe to say we learned a lot! The Winter gave us a time of reflection and inspiration and I’m happy to say that almost every communal meal was cooked on our wood-fired stove.
Last year saw much involvement with local community organizations, Ozarks Neighborly Exchange (ONE) and the Ozark County Homegrown Food Project. With these groups we actively took part in several events, work parties, and workshops. Through the Ozarks Neighborly Exchange we organized a work party with a bio-char innovator from Lake of the Ozarks area. He came down with all the supplies to build 12 bio-char stoves and we took two of them home with us to be used in our hoop house. Another workshop was led by Leo Sharashkin, a natural beekeeper practicing the old Russian tradition of keeping bees in large horizontal hives similar to the old log hives. Many hands built many beehives and swarm boxes to be used for catching local swarms. Two beehives and two swarm boxes came home with us to OM and our first swarm moved in at the end of Summer in our Sycamore tree by the pond. They were safely moved from swarm box to beehive, but sadly it was a little late in the season and our beautiful bees died in the harsh Winter. We learned from the experience and will try again this year. The first annual Ozarks Neighborly Exchange One Day Congress was a huge success, a day full of lectures on sustainability and self reliance. The Congress was inspired by the Ozark Area Community Congress, founded by our local sustainable forestry advocate David Haenke in the 1970s. His was the first bio-regional congress in America. We hosted a work party here in the Summer with folks who came out from ONE, East Wind, and local friends. We chopped down lots of Cedar from our woods and got a lot of work done on our tipi which is nearing completion now. With our local ONE group we also grew two acres of sorghum and had a very successful first year, harvesting by hand, pressing with a neighbor’s work horses, and cooking it into delicious syrup with the help of many hands.
This year we are going to be share cropping at least 10 acres of land at Woodpecker’s, where we grew sorghum, and will grow Emmer wheat, a variety of corn, sorghum, sunflower seeds, and some sort of legume. Having a place where local farmers can get together and produce large amounts of shared food for humans and animal feed has been an amazing thing. It’s like our own village grainery. We have been connecting with several friends and neighbors to trade with each other for things we need. Setting up local barter connections is essential in achieving the interconnected self reliance that we are working towards. With the Ozark County Homegrown Food Project in Gainesville, we were able to find a building to start our local Food Co-Op. This is a space where we will offer locally-sourced food from a small restaurant, produce and local meats from area farmers, and handmade crafts. The Co-Op will feature a certified kitchen so all members can use it for canning, baking, and other cooking endeavors. We will host events, workshops, music, and more! We are working on by-laws and saving up money to get our 501c3 and then will sign the lease and begin converting the space this Spring. We have also been working on revising Oran Mor’s by-laws, norms, and creating our Articles of Incorporation so that we can become a 501d and legally operate as an egalitarian community. As it stands currently, the land is still in Pearl and Bunny’s legal names.
Moving into 2015, there are many wonderful things already blossoming. Another family, and dear friends of ours, is moving in on the Spring Equinox, March 20th, to begin their visitor period with the intention of becoming members here. We are all very excited about having Xela, Christian, and their little baby Dax join us! There have been several others who have contacted us about membership and visiting as well.
Once the tipi is complete, Carlos, Kalani, and Desiree will move up the hill into La Lomah where we will begin setting up a second chicken coop, more garden spaces, and herding goats. Most of the community is on hillsides, but La Lomah is a flat hilltop with more soil than exists anywhere else on the farm, so it will be a great location for future veggie gardens. It will be very exciting to see how things progress in La Lomah. We are working on completing a goat shed up there which is already half built and plan to build another goat shed in another pasture so we can have permanent shelter for our buck to be away from the rest of our herd until he is called upon. There are big, amazing plans to expand on our Summer Kitchen so that most of our warm season cooking can be done off-grid and outdoors. We have the cob oven already and it would be great to build a solar oven and a rocket stove, as well as seating areas nearby. The poles have already been cut and the stones laid to erect a pavilion to serve as a covered seating area. With our nearly endless supply of resources from the old burnt down house and the beautiful clay and sand on the farm, I’m sure we have almost everything we need. Another project that is in the works is our cheese cellar down by Mini Creek. The walls and roof are in place and we have begun filling in the holes between the stone and covering the roof with earth, and a door must be fitted. These are some of the projects we have going on this year and with all the folks coming through to share their unique existence with us, I’m sure we will have many unique and exciting adventures!